The procurement service was set up in 2003 to take a strategic approach to placing Wakefield Council's contracts and concentrate on developing a dynamic local economy - one of the priorities in the district's fast forward community strategy.
Since 2003 the procurement team has introduced a number of measures to address the problems and increase spend with local companies by 10% over two years. These include:
-a dedicated website (www.wakefield.gov.uk/procurement) with contact telephone numbers and addresses, and a guidance booklet on winning council business. This give companies details on how to find out how the council buys its goods, services and places contracts for work.
-placing tendering opportunities on the regional tendering website (www.counciltenders.net) - which gives companies access to council tenders.
-establishing a major annual 'Meet The Buyer' event, in partnership with first (the development agency for the Wakefield District) and Business Link, West Yorkshire. The first event, in November last year, attracted 450 visitors.
-a seminar aimed at businesses to explain the council's housing stock transfer and the opportunities which this would create from the housing improvement programme.
Other problems which potential suppliers experienced have resulted in a series of proactive actions such as arranging workshops to explain how the tendering process works and advice on how to respond; ensuring all major works contracts including a local labour clause where appropriate; and debriefs to all bidders to help them improve future bids.
Graham Stokes, Wakefield Council's cabinet member for resources, said: 'We have had a lot of positive feedback from the local business community and we are confident that the measures we have put in place will contribute to increasing the money we spend locally and regionally, rather than nationally, by 10% over the next two years, putting more of our money into the local economy.
'We are continuing to look at ways of improving the way the council places its contracts, and we are in a partnership with Leeds Council to share approved suppliers which will be rolled out to other West Yorkshire authorities. We have also introduced purchasing cards which can be used for low value purchases with local suppliers.
'In the near future we are looking to adopt a regional web-based contract and supplier management system via the Yorkshire & Humber Regional centre of Excellence which will complement our new financial and procurement systems and enable us to compare contract performance more easily.'
The case study can be viewed on the I&DeA website at http:list.idea-knowledge.gov.uk
MOVING FORWARD THE WAKEFIELD WAY
Wakefield Council with its district partners and local business leaders has set up a joint initiative to put Wakefield at the heart of the regeneration of the north.
The council and its partners have developed the Wakefield Way, a contribution to the Northern Way Growth Strategy outlining the area's central role at the heart of the motorway network and proposals to establish the Leeds City Region as a catalyst to drive the North's competitiveness and growth.
So far the Northern Way Steering Group, set up by the deputy prime minister John Prescott, has produced a focused strategy for the three northern regions with an action plan to bridge the£29bn output gap between the North and the UK average.
The strategy will become a fully costed Business Plan by April 2005, and eight city regions will produce development programmes by May to set out their key priorities.
Council leader Peter Box, who is also a member of the Northern Way Steering Group and is chairing the partnership group developing Wakefield's response, said: 'We believe that we are the first council to respond in this way to the Northern Way initiative, giving us the choice to lead on new opportunities, rather than responding to them.
'The idea of a Wakefield Way is a challenge and a great opportunity. Progressing the Northern Way is all about collaboration between localities and between the public and private sectors.
'The Wakefield Way is all about engaging partners within our district to ensure that the barriers to and for economic growth in Wakefield are fully understood and incorporated into the Leeds City Region response.'
He added: 'The Growth Strategy includes 10 areas for action including raising employment levels, strengthening the knowledge base and driving forward innovation, encouraging entrepreneurs and capturing a larger share of global and European trade.
'This obviously also means meeting employers' skills needs, improving access to airports and sea ports, creating sustainable communities, improving transport links and marketing ourselves to the world.
'Wakefield currently has the highest rate of growth in business start ups in West Yorkshire and we have links to a number of regional growth areas. Our strongest group is logistics and distribution, and we need to consider whether we want to convert this national strength to global logistics strength.
'At the heart of the Wakefield Way is a drive to develop an entrepreneurial culture with innovative and growing businesses.
The Northern Way Steering group will now begin implementing proposals including embedding northern flexibility into government programmes like Pathways to Work and making the case for funding in transport and planning.
They will also assess the city regions development programmes when they are submitted in May to ensure they provide the right framework for future activity. They will also look to influence the next government spending review in 2006 to support the ambitious proposals and ensure mainstream government programmes are flexible and large enough to make a real difference to the North of England.